Bernie Sanders has run his course

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Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont has made a statement with his campaign. That is a big reality the Democratic Party has been forced to accept. As Joe Scarborough said on MSNBC, Sanders has forever changed politics in America.

The previously Independent Democratic Socialist — now Democrat, if at last in name only — has mounted an independent run for the presidency inside the power structure of the Democratic Party. Millions of people, young and old, have flocked to his rallies and his cause because they hear in him what has been missing too long from our political discourse.

Bernie Sanders says what Democrats used to say way back in the 1970s when the only people that wanted to get rid of Social Security, Medicare and other social welfare programs were nutty cranks far to the right of the Republican Party. Now the nutty cranks run the GOP.

Paul Ryan is just the “face,” allowed to be Speaker of the House for as long as he obeys the nutty cranks in his Congressional caucus.

Besides, he’s one of the people that want to end Social Security, Medicare and other social welfare programs. He loves Ayn Rand, for god’s sake.

Bernie Sanders speaks for that part of America that doesn’t think the word “welfare” is bad or that social welfare programs are bad — or even a drain on the nation. The good senator speaks for people that believe our taxes should take care of the least and most vulnerable among us — as well as fund a military-industrial complex.

Do we need a military that is bigger than the next eight combined?

But we do have a military and Senator Sanders speaks for people that believe if we are going to spend trillions sending our young (and some older) men and women off to war then we should spend billions to take care of those veterans when they return. We shouldn’t be cutting or holding the line on V.A. funding, we should be increasing it exponentially to meet the needs of the veterans returning from the two wars we’ve been in since 2001.

Forty years ago a person could go to a public college like the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and cover the cost of all their credits and school supplies for about $1,500 per semester. It was still tough, considering the minimum wage was still under $4/hour, but students didn’t leave college with five figure — or even six figure — debt.

Bernie Sanders in Santa Monica, CA (YouTube)
Bernie Sanders in Santa Monica, CA (YouTube)

In California residents could attend public universities for free.

Now all higher education — including public universities and community colleges — is a business. It may say “not for profit” on the door, but the NCAA is in business to make billions in profit.

UCLA just signed a deal with athletic apparel company Under Armour worth $280 million over 15 years. Students and athletes will soon be wearing T-shirts that say, “Champions Made Here.”

Under Armour made a similar deal with the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Ohio State signed a similar deal with Nike.

Somebody is paying for it and gosh darn it, it isn’t the alumni associations.

Everyone is getting such a deal with higher education — except the students. They just have to go deeper in debt, often times to the federal government that sees college students as a profit center.

Bernie Sanders wants public colleges and universities to be free all across the nation — just like it is in several European nations that have far better educated college graduates.

It’s a good bet that if you pressed him on it Senator Sanders believes we should get rid of this nonsense of having each state and municipality control their education systems and have it completely centralized. That way kids from pre-school through high school would all be learning the same history, the same math — the same science. Actual science, instead of religious mythology dressed up as science.

Bernie represents people who make up the Occupy movement, people who believe the middle class should make more than just a living wage, but a wage that allows them to enjoy life, to take much needed time off to spend with family and friends. Job security that doesn’t force a woman — or man — to choose whether to earn a paycheck or stay home and take care of a child until it enters pre-school.

The Senator from Vermont speaks for people that believe we should be increasing benefits for Social Security and lowering the age of eligibility, instead of cutting benefits and raising the age of eligibility.

And we should have at least Medicare for all.

Thirty-five years ago the radical fringe of the Republican Party slowly took over and began convincing Americans that all these things, unions included, were bad, bad, bad and needed to be eliminated if we were to live free and prosper. Well as it turns out, we have less freedom these days and middle class incomes have flat-lined. As companies were encouraged to make more profit for the 1 percent by moving their operations to third world, so-called emerging markets, more middle class Americans were forced into poverty.

Bernie Sanders speaks for people who have stood up against that and said, “Enough is enough! We want economic equality and justice!”

The Democratic Party never turned its back completely on those ideals, but over the past 35 years the party has perfected the act of rolling over and going along in hopes that if it was just GOP enough, the voters would vote them back into power.

It would have been okay for President Bill Clinton to sign that welfare reform bill, the “Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 ( gotta love that title) and then said, “This bill is terrible and will push even more people into poverty.” But he didn’t. he spoke of it as a great new thing.

Bernie Sanders was against it of course, but the Republicans controlled Congress so some Democrats wanted to go along in hopes of regaining favor with the voters and thereby control of Congress — and the purse strings — once again.

Which brings up campaign finance reform. Not enough people on either side of the aisle really want to change the way our political system is funded, but getting money out of politics is the centerpiece of the Sanders campaign.

In all fairness campaign finance reform and getting rid of “Citizens United” has been part of Secretary Hillary Clinton’s platform since she started her run for the nomination. Sanders has just been more vocal and animated about it.

He has come this far, carrying his movement with him, strong enough that he can sit at the table and not only make demands, but have some of them put into the Democratic Party platform at the convention in Philadelphia.

Sanders knows this, the DNC — Democratic National Committee — and DNC chair Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz know this, Secretary Clinton knows this. They all know it, which is why they all got together and ironed out which 15 people will sit on the platform committee. The Clinton campaign will get six representatives, the Sanders campaign five and the DNC will have the remaining four, including the chair of the committee, Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland.

Hillary Clinton
Hillary Clinton

Everyone acknowledged that Clinton has the upper hand in the election and is treating her as the presumptive nominee.

In a statement after the committee was chosen, Senator Sanders said, “We believe that we will have the representation on the platform drafting committee to create a Democratic platform that reflects the views of millions of our supporters who want the party to address the needs of working families in this country and not just Wall Street, the drug companies, the fossil fuel industry and other powerful special interests.”

In effect he conceded the nomination to Secretary Clinton.

He knows the reality: Clinton has over 3 million more votes in these primaries, she has far more pledged delegates and super delegates — Bernie Sanders is mathematically eliminated from winning the nomination.

Another reality check: most of the people supporting Hillary Clinton, the people that actually cast votes in these primaries, believe in all those ideals, or most of them, outlined above. Economic justice and equality, affordable health care for all, affordable higher education for all who want to attend college, racial justice and equality, a sensible plan for immigration. These are some of the shared values between Clinton and Sanders, and more importantly their supporters.

So why does this man, who enthusiastically endorses the science of climate change and global warming, why does he choose to either ignore, or disbelieve or pretend the math that puts his rival far ahead of him in the race for the nomination isn’t true?

He can’t win, furthermore he isn’t going to sway many — if any — super delegates to change their votes at the convention and even if he could convince nearly 300 delegates to change their votes, it still wouldn’t be enough to overtake Hillary Clinton in the delegate count, let alone the actual primary votes.

He knew how the Democratic primaries are run, long before he got in the race. If he didn’t, then maybe he isn’t the type of person who is qualified to be president. So it’s disingenuous to say the system is rigged against him, as if this was some giant diabolical plot by Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Hillary Clinton to steal the nomination from him.

No, the system isn’t rigged against Sanders and his supporters. His opponent just got more votes and delegates. That’s the reality. There aren’t more Sanders supporters mysteriously hidden way in some backroom closet.

His candidacy is, for all practical purposes, over and has been for months. That is why Hillary Clinton doesn’t want another debate. What would be the point? There really aren’t that many people who want to watch another primary debate. How many more times do we need to hear Sanders tell us she was paid a lot of money to give speeches to Goldman Sachs? How many more times does he need to remind us she voted to authorize war in Iraq?

The Democratic Party and its voters have heard his message and Sanders has earned his seats at the table. It’s time to admit reality and help the Democrats defeat Donald Trump and the Republican Party.

Or at least stop campaigning against the Democratic Party.

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UPDATE: On Wednesday Jimmy Kimmel pitched the idea of debating Bernie Sanders to Donald Trump. Trump’s reply: “How much is he going to pay me?”

Sanders heard of it and said was willing to debate Trump. “Game on. I look forward to debating Donald Trump in California before the June 7 primary,” he said on Twitter.

The sticking point, if there is one, is money. Trump wants at least $10 million — from Senator Sanders — to be donated to charity to do the debate. The amount all but insures the debate won’t happen.

Many Democrats are upset with Sanders for agreeing to it. There’s the thought that he is undermining Hillary Clinton who will most likely be Trump’s opponent in the general election November 8. They have been denouncing Sanders all day for agreeing to it, even though Trump has no intention of debating Sanders.